“As for me,” Twain wrote at the age of seventy-three, “I collect pets: young girls—girls from ten to sixteen years old; girls who are pretty and sweet and naive and innocent—dear young creatures to whom life is a perfect joy and to whom it has brought no wounds, no bitterness, and few tears.”
[The quintessential adolescent of the time, who leapt gloriously onto the London stage in 1904 and Broadway in 1905, was Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up. Like Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, Peter flew to uncharted territory rather than submit to becoming civilized by his family.
Mark Twain praised the play with his customary enthusiasm, gushing that
all the implacable rules of the drama are violated, yet the result is a play which is without a defect … It is a fairy play. There isn’t a thing in it which could ever happen in real life. That is as it should be. It is consistently beautiful, sweet, clean, fascinating, satisfying, charming, and impossible from beginning to end. It breaks all the rules of real life drama, but preserves intact all the rules of fairyland, and the result is altogether contenting to the spirit.
“The longing of my heart,” the seventy-year-old Twain added, “is a fairy portrait of myself: I want to be pretty; I want to eliminate facts and fill up the gap with charms.” Twain saw in Peter the adolescent he so fervently wished to be, eternally.]